In Stained Glass a 50s-something reporter, who has been jaded by overexposure to media hype and is cynical about every aspect of his wretched life, is given an assignment by his aging mother to complete the memoir of his great-great-grandfather Christopher Dryden. In the early 1870s Christopher had been sent on a mission to the boisterous Gold Rush town of Barkerville, BC, where a fund-raising campaign to install a stained glass window behind the alter of St. Saviour's Anglican Church (flickr image at right by jmegjmeg) turned into a heated controversy when it was revealed that the anonymous donor, who was covering most of the cost for the painted glass, was none other than the owner of the town's most notorious brothel...

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Babushka Tins

The form of Stained Glass is becoming clearer. I have wrestled with it for some time now, not wanting to confine the story to a chronological or conventional structure. What has emerged is a sort of Babushka Doll story. Kyle's mother hands him an antique cookie tin containing the unfinished memoir of his Great-Grandfather; by the end of Stained Glass, he will have his own cookie tin, containing his own unfinished memoir and the unfinished memoir of his Great Grandfather.

The notion of incompleteness is central to this book.

Of growing importance will be the friendship between Kyle and the latter day Anglican priest. Their ongoing debate about subjects spiritual and theological will intermingle with the emerging story of Kyle's Great Grandfather. Although they are striving to reach some sort of reasonable conclusion to their debate, which fluctuates between serious and humorous, tragic and comic, there will be no satisfying ending. The only lasting conclusion will be the bond of friendship and mutual respect... of Love. This will be deepened by the compassion the priest shows in dealing with Kyle's wayward son, Andrew. And by the advice he offers with regard to Kyle's bitter marital dispute. Because Kyle is not a parishioner, the usual distance a priest would maintain is breached and they end up talking 'man-to-man', and going places neither could go otherwise.

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